2 May 2019: The Asian Development Bank (ADB) launched an ‘Action Plan for Healthy Oceans and Sustainable Blue Economies’ for Asia and the Pacific alongside an ADB Oceans Financing Initiative. The Plan and Initiative aim to support the protection and restoration of marine ecosystems while promoting inclusive livelihoods, in line with SDG 14 (life below water).

The Action Plan focuses on four areas. In support of the blue economy, the Plan will create inclusive livelihood and business opportunities in sustainable fisheries and tourism. On ecosystem management, the Action Plan will work to protect and restore coastal and marine ecosystems and rivers. To tackle pollution control, the Plan aims to reduce land-based sources of marine pollution, including plastics, wastewater and agricultural runoff. To support sustainable infrastructure, the Plan will focus on improving sustainability in coastal and port infrastructure development.

ADB will use a range of approaches in implementing the Action Plan, from strengthening policy and regulatory frameworks and sharing knowledge on lessons learned to engaging women, youth and communities in addressing ocean health issues and supporting regional cooperation on transboundary ecosystems.

According to ADB, this Plan is especially critical for the Asia-Pacific region, which is “at the epicenter of a major crisis in marine plastic pollution.” Ten rivers around the world transport 88 to 95 percent of plastics found in rivers into the sea, and eight of these rivers are in the Asia-Pacific region. This plastic pollution crisis threatens the region’s marine economies and their potential to contribute to the region’s poverty reduction efforts and the SDGs more broadly. In addition, ADB states that climate change and illegal and unregulated fishing threaten ocean ecosystems, including their coral reefs and fish stocks, further threatening the region’s food security.

The Oceans Financing Initiative aims to create opportunities for the private sector to invest in projects that improve the ocean’s health and stimulate the blue economy. Through the Initiative, ADB commits to expand its investments and technical assistance in these areas to USD 5 billion between 2019-2024. The Initiative will leverage public sector funds to attract financing from a range of sources, including the private sector. In addition, the Initiative will promote the use of innovative financing instruments, such as credit-enhanced blue bonds and revenue guarantees to reduce project risks and increase their bankability.

ADB will pilot the Ocean Financing Initiative in Southeast Asia in collaboration with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Infrastructure Fund and the Republic of Korea. The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) will provide support in designing and implementing the Initiative.

ADB launched the Action Plan at the 52nd Annual Meeting of the ADB’s Board of Governors in Fiji. During the Annual Meeting, the ADB organized a seminar on Ocean Health. The Action Plan aligns with ADB’s Strategy 2030 Operational Priorities. [ADB Press Release] [Action Plan Brochure]